TOWN centre bosses say they “must remain positive” as the future of two big name brands hang in the balance.

Arcadia Group, which runs Topshop, has collapsed into administration and Debenhams has said it will begin a liquidation process after JD Sports confirmed it had pulled out of a possible rescue.

Debenhams, located in Colchester’s Culver Square Shopping Centre, has been under threat since the national chain went into administration back in April.

Last year it was revealed the brand had been handed £31k rent reduction lifeline to keep it in the town.

Now 12,000 workers are at risk of losing their livelihoods, including those working in Colchester’s town centre store.


Debenhams said it will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.

“On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close,” the company said in statement.

Geoff Rowley, of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams, said: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.

“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.”

Some 13,000 staff at Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, including those working at Topshop in Lion Walk, also face uncertainty.

Sam Good, the Our Colchester bid manager, remains optimistic about the future of the town centre.

He said: “As far as we are concerned many of the stores themselves do not know much at this point, so we do have to remain positive and wait for more official news.

“We cross every finger and hope they can get through this but if they do go it will not be the death of the town centre.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we have had more businesses opening than we have had closing, so we will get through this.

“Where doors shut, new doors open, but we must remain positive with regards to Debenhams and Topshop.”

David King, Colchester councillor for business and resources, hopes administrators will refrain from deploying blanket closures, and spare better performing stores.

He said: “We share the dismay that many employees will feel at this news but are hopeful the reopening up of retail will provide fresh opportunities shoppers and staff.

“This is a really difficult time, and our hearts go out to all of those who are worried and concerned what their futures may hold, at Debenhams, Topshop, or otherwise.

“We will do all we can to help sustain jobs and employment and make Colchester an even more attractive place.

“We also need to keep a positive attitude for the future.”